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A Social Network Users Bill of Rights: You Decide

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Over the last week, IT specialists, academics, lawyers, journalists, activists, students and others met in San Jose for the annual Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference. This year, in the aftermath of several public user rights and privacy violations by major social web companies, the focus of the conference was to craft a Social Network Users Bill of Rights.

The Social Networks Users Bill of Rights (#billofrights) was the topic of discussion for days, a culmination of the ideas of conference attendees, Twitter participants and other users who wanted to have their voice heard through this document. Throughout today, online and offline participants were encouraged to suggest amendments and participate in what at times was a lively debate over the contents of the document.

Now, as the preamble of the document reads, "We the Users," it is time to throw this document out to the public for vetting and discourse. Much of the conversation about users and their rights has been around users not taking the necessary steps to maintain their online privacy. The Social Network Users Bill of Rights is an important step, both from a future activism and legislative perspective, in the fight to define our digital futures as users.

Social Network Users Bill of Rights

We the users expect social network sites to provide provide us the following rights in their Terms of Service, Privacy Policies, and implementations of their system:

We the users expect social network sites to provide us the following rights in their Terms of Service, Privacy Policies, and implementations of their system:

1. Honesty: Honor your privacy policy and terms of service

2. Clarity: Make sure that policies, terms of service, and settings are easy to find and understand

3. Freedom of speech: Do not delete or modify my data without a clear policy and justification

4. Empowerment : Support assistive technologies and universal accessibility

5. Self-protection: Support privacy-enhancing technologies

6. Data minimization: Minimize the information I am required to provide and share with others.

7. Control: Let me control my data, and don't facilitate sharing it unless I agree first.

8. Predictability: Obtain my prior consent before significantly changing who can see my data.

9. Data portability: Make it easy for me to obtain a copy of my data.

10. Protection: Treat my data as securely as your own confidential data unless I choose to share it, and notify me if it is compromised.

11. Right to know: Show me how you are using my data and allow me to see who and what has access to it.

12. Right to self-define: Let me create more than one identity and use pseudonyms. Do not link them without my permission.

13. Right to appeal: Allow me to appeal punitive actions.

14. Right to withdraw: Allow me to delete my account, and remove my data.

(Note: Adopted almost-unanimously (one dissent on data portability) at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference.)

You can visit the petition to see the Social Network Users Bill of Rights and find out more ways to participate.

Now, users, tell us what you really think.

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